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Saving the Newspaper Industry, Slashing One Section at a Time

newspaper-on-the-press.jpgThe LA Daily News has diminished and moved its business section to make room for KNOW, a section that will "contain in-depth information about everything from relationships to cars, from issues of faith to the history of the region." The business section, now located in B2, no longer includes stock listings. Likely, KNOW will start popping up in other local publications as part of William Dean Singleton's content-sharing initiative.

Singleton isn't exactly known for fostering journalistic integrity, but he knows how to bring in ad revenue and isn't afraid to cut out "the fat" to do so -- which may be just what the industry needs right now.

From Business Week:

His ruthless efficiency is now seen by many as a necessity for newspapers. Also, he's pulling together some of the industry's top players to take the offensive on the Web. One example: a content-sharing and advertising alliance with Web giant Yahoo! involving 18 newspaper companies. "We have to collaborate now. No one newspaper group can get to the other side of the river alone," says Singleton, 56, whose voice still retains some of the twang of his youth in hardscrabble Graham, Tex., where he got his start at the age of 15 as a part-time reporter...

Key to MediaNews' strategy is "clustering" newspapers within geographic areas so they can share costs and sell regional advertising. The San FranciscoBay area cluster that the Mercury News is part of consists of seven daily papers that are consolidating printing plants, administrative operations, and reporting and editing staffs. One reporter covers the Oakland Raiders football team for several of the papers, for instance. In the 2007 fiscal year, when revenues for the cluster declined by $39 million, to $478 million, the company was able to make up the difference through consolidation savings and other cost-cutting measures. "It turns out that in our era, these operational skills are essential to survival," says George Riggs, who heads MediaNews'
California operations.

(Newspaper on the Press image courtesy of Vin Crosbie, CC 2.0)